How to update permanent trail closures in high use park?

The local parks department has done major construction on several natural surface trails which are a quite confusing trail and could easily get park guests lost! I’m not sure the proper process for getting the trails updated (their published updated map is incorrect, as it were!) doesn’t show all the changes).

I made edits to the trails based on a Strava .gpx file I uploaded showing some of the new routes (I walked the new trails, all very obvious, wide trails with new dirt and gravel). However, after editing on OSM, the changes are not showing. How do we expedite getting these changes reflected on the current map? I removed sections of trail that are now closed and created new trails reflecting where new trails have been constructed and connected.

I have plans to run a community science effort this summer and was horrified to discover how confusing the new trails are (the new marker posts have no labels on them, and it’s been months of no change!). I had hoped to rely on AllTrails (their base map is from OSM), so now took it upon myself to update the map.

Am I doing this right? How do I get the changes to show up? Does someone need to review/validate?

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Your changes will have been immediately applied to the OSM database. Other projects and companies that use OSM data will copy it on schedules that they set. I don’t know how often AllTrails updates their database from the one at OSM.

If you would like to have someone review your changes, please let us know the location, or one of the trails edited, or the changeset ID(s).

Edit: You have only two changesets so your edits are pretty easy to find. Welcome to the OSM map editing community.

In general, your edits look good. Adding an operator tag giving the agency that manages the trails would be nice. And on way 1185621853 your “name” looks a lot more like a description. It is okay to have an unnamed trail, so I’d move the content of that name to being a description.

You may want to read up on some US centric trail tagging at United States/Trail Access Project - OpenStreetMap Wiki


Thanks for your work, Alex! :+1:, but one thing to note - please don’t “remove” old trails entirely, but mark them as abandoned:highway=path (or whatever they previously were), together with access=no.

This will still leave them visible in OSM but marked as no longer in use, which stops other people from tracing over them from imagery & adding them again.


but only in cases where such objects are actually still visible on aerials and likely to be remapped by accident (we keep no longer existing objects only in very special cases and only temporarily - unless they remain are still present)

just removing no longer existing objects is 100% fine, such special tagging is purely optional and useful for high-risk cases, there is no need to do this in general

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@Fizzie41 @Mateusz_Konieczny In this case, the Parks System have placed many logs in the old trail and planted trees every 7-10 feet with the intent of the closed segments being completely reforested.

So access=no, for sure. But not truly abandoned since they’ve been modified expressly to prevent passage and will get overgrown quickly (already in progress). What do you advise in this case?

I have to go back and map the remainder of the trails after the wildfire smoke subsides, so I am very grateful for this input now!

just delete it

if it is visible on aerial imagery or otherwise worth temporarily mapping to preserve readding it then demolished:highway=path or similar would work.


There are a whole set of lifecycle prefixes to describe various states of existence. In this case, I’d use the demolished: prefix for the old trails.

While the trail is closed to regenerate the vegetation and better control the erosion, trail managers generally take care to clearly indicate at crossing of trails that the section is closed with markers and trees. But the rest of the closed section migth still be visible and yes the best is to keep the way in the OSM database adding tags to clearly identify that this is closed. There could be also a note that indicate the section is closed to regenerate the vegetation. If hikers would be lost in this area, it would be usefull for the rescue teams to know the existence of the closed section.


This is something I wonder about - there’s a lot of closed trails through meadows that have bypasses / new trails made in more durable terrain. For new ones, both ends are signed, logs are placed as barriers, but most of the middle is still visible (Cathedral Lakes in the Sierra Nevada). There’s also ones like the old trail in Evolution Lake, or ones in Parks Canada that are not signed in any way but are still visible if mostly overgrown,

Most of the time these are more direct and require less elevation gain (and have better views) than the newer bypasses. On one hand there’s still ground truth to mark, and it does help prevent future re-tagging of them, but I wonder how many people just see a trail on their mapping client and follow it.

If nothing else I would recommend mapping the barriers. Most data consumers will treat these so as not to route through them, foot=no is a failsafe.

I’m generally in favour of leaving old trails in the database marked with disused:highway or similar: as others have said the main purpose is to discourage people from adding them back. This includes not just people using aerial imagery (or GPS/Strava traces, or out-of-date trail maps), but people intimately familiar with an area who haven’t been there for a while. It’s quite easy to decide that a familiar area is missing detail, when actually it had the detail but it has since gone and been removed from OSM.


That’s a good tip!

I think there’s a big difference between having something in the OSM database that won’t show up in a renderer / third party app, and having something show up that has some sort of “no access” overlay on it or a different rendering style that someone can ignore, not understand, or not pay attention to. Then again you can have people that see it’s an old closed trail and choose not to walk on it due to information from the map. I’m torn.

I do clearly agree that instead of deleting a way it should be tagged destroyed:highway=path or removed:highway=path etc as appropriate.

I came across a trail that literally just had two cut logs over many miles as the only sign it was ever a path last year. Following recommendations I changed it to destroyed:highway=path - it was from a USGS trace old enough to be very inaccurate, and honestly trying to follow it was non ideal in terms of terrain difficulty vs just common self off trail routefinding. It now only shows up in edit mode on OSM which feels appropriate to me.

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Interestingly, I spotted just the other day that “disused” paths do apparently disappear out of Strava!

I was clearing a Note to update a path as now disused (the NW-SE one visible here: OpenStreetMap). While looking at Strava for the area, I noticed that the marked traces for the NE T / Y shaped paths, that are marked in OSM as disused, don’t show up at all: Strava's Global Heatmap

Has anybody spotted this previously?

I don’t know if the same works with “abandoned” paths?

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The strava heatmap’s a subscription thing now? It won’t even show me the low resolution unless I log out.

I’m just signed up with a free membership?

GPS traces age out of the Strava heatmap after about a year these days. (It used to be three years.)

i didn’t mean the GPS heat traces, but the actual line of the path itself is no longer shown.

Hmm, maybe it’s because they deactivated my account at one point due to inactivity. Might have changed the effective account creation date?